Are you under attack from emotional vampires?
No matter how positive you are, sometimes you’re in a situation where those around you have lost their mojo and radiate negativity. Unknowingly these emotional vampires suck the positivity out of everyone around them with their doom and gloom approach to life. It can happen to any of us and we’re all entitled to an off day but on a regular basis it can be exhausting and completely drain your energy levels. If you frequently find yourself in a situation where you’re surrounded by negativity, in the office, with friends or even at home, here’s our quick survival guide to managing emotional vampires.
Five tips to keep the emotional vampires at bay
- Practice Compassion. It’s not their fault, maybe they’ve had a bad day, a bad week, a bad month or even a bad year. Research by Mattieu Ricard has demonstrated the health benefits of compassion. We know that practicing compassion boosts our mood and leaves us (and those around us) feeling happier. James Fowler of UC San Diego and Nic Christakis of Harvard describe the ‘chain reaction’ of compassion and how it has a domino effect on those we come into contact with. It has even been shown to make us appear more attractive (result!). Several studies have also shown that compassion can even increase our longevity. All great reasons to cut others some slack in the negativity stakes.
- Become a Master of the ‘Switch.’ There’s only so long that you can listen to a barrage of negativity. A key strategy is to disengage from the negative conversation topic and switch to another, lighter or more positive subject. If the negativity continues, listen but don’t collude, nod and show empathy without feeding into the downward spiral about how awful the world is.
- Reflect on who you spend your time with. Jim Rohn famously said that we are “The average of the five people you spend the most time with”. If the ratio isn’t working out in your favour and you’re beginning to feel dragged down, consider limiting the amount of time that you spend around people who drain your energy. You don’t need to jettison the entire contents of your little black book, just think about when you have the most energy and are better able to manage negativity when planning your time.
- Yup, it’s an obvious one. Practice bringing your attention to your breathing in those moments when you are experiencing others’ negativity. Notice how you feel in your body, any areas of tension, any knots in the shoulders or back of the neck. Scan your thoughts, noticing them without judgement. Use affect labeling to diffuse the situation welcoming each thought and emotion as you notice them “That’s tension”, “Hello stress” “And this is anxiety” labeling whatever comes as a thought, feeling or emotion rather than identifying with it.
- Build a Positive network. Start to develop your own positivity (read some of the blogs or watch the videos on this site to kickstart your plan). Build a network of positive people who you can spend time with (remember Jim Rohn’s five people average) and look at ways to build more positivity into your life to give your wellbeing a boost.